News / Asia

    North Korea Cuts Key Military Hotline with South

    A North Korean man walks past propaganda posters in Pyongyang, North Korea, that threatens punishment to the "U.S. imperialists and their allies," March 26, 2013.
    A North Korean man walks past propaganda posters in Pyongyang, North Korea, that threatens punishment to the "U.S. imperialists and their allies," March 26, 2013.
    North Korea says it is cutting a key military hotline with the South. It is the latest setback on the peninsula, amid an escalating war of words between the two Koreas.
     
    South Korea's Unification Ministry confirms the North Koreans are no longer answering the military hotline at the Kaesong industrial complex, just north of the Demilitarized Zone.
     
    Military Hotline

    -Used to coordinate movement of people for Kaesong industrial complex
    -Kaesong is operated in the North with South Korean money
    -North Korea cut the line in 2009, leaving South Korean workers briefly stranded in Kaesong

    Red Cross Hotline

    -Established in 1971
    -North and South Korea would make contact two times a day
    -North Korea has cut the line several times, most recently in March 2013
    North Korea says heightened tensions on the peninsula amid joint U.S.-South Korean military drills this month justifies severing the link.
     
    An announcer on Pyongyang's central broadcasting station Wednesday afternoon says "under the situation where a war may break out at any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications."
     
    This comes two weeks after the North also cut the Red Cross communications link to the South.
     
    Lone link


    An aviation hotline is now the only remaining direct communications link between the two Koreas, which have no diplomatic relations.
     
    South Korea's transport ministry confirmed that the aviation hotline is still working.
     
    The Kaesong military and aviation hotlines between airports at Incheon and Pyongyang were previously cut in 2010.
     
    North Korea's state media says its military, "equipped with nuclear, high-precision sophisticated weapons," is on the highest alert and awaiting supreme commander Kim Jong Un's order to initiate war.
     
    For only the second time since the South Korean president's inauguration a month ago, North Korea also has made reference to Madame Park Geun-hye.
     
    This comes in reaction to the South Korean president's speech Tuesday warning the North its survival hinges on giving up its nuclear weapons and the quest to develop long-range ballistic missiles.
     
    Provocations


    During a broadcast from Pyongyang on state radio Wednesday, an announcer, quoting the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, blasts President Park for referencing hunger in the North and the country's isolation, saying she better watch her tongue and not utter further unpardonable provocations.
     
    Although not mentioning Madame Park's name or actual title, the announcer says the owner of the presidential office should be mindful that any wrong word from her could "entail horrible disaster" at a dangerous time and result with her meeting "a miserable ruin" should she defy Pyongyang's warnings.
     
    Another statement issued Wednesday from North Korea's foreign ministry was directed at the United States. It said while the U.S. may have "numerical superiority of nuclear weapons it will not be able to escape a miserable plight of perishing forever in the flames kindled with its own hands."
     
    Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, sees these provocative statements as an attempt by Pyongyang to be taken seriously.
     
    Seeking allies


    Lim adds that, although most of international society will not agree with Pyongyang's position, the North is still attempting to secure support from countries apt to be more sympathetic, such as China and Russia.
     
    And another Wednesday announcement from Pyongyang says the workers' party central committee is to convene later this month "to discuss and decide an important issue."
     
    No specific date or details were given beyond saying that the committee will make "a drastic turn" to achieve revolutionary goals.
     
    Professor Lim at Kyungnam University says the meeting might unveil new economic policies.
     
    He says this could include new regulations to attract desperately needed foreign capital and the committee might also announce a shake-up of internal organizations in response to the changing political situation at home and abroad.
     
    North Korea previously announced that the country's rubber stamp legislature, the Supreme People's Assembly, is to meet in Pyongyang on April 1.
     
    North Korea and South Korea, respectively, are considered to have the world's third and fourth largest armies.
     
    They fought a bitter three-year war in the early 1950's. The Korean War ended with an armistice, which Pyongyang said earlier this month it was abrogating. Seoul never signed the war truce but the U.S.-led United Nations command says it cannot be voided unilaterally and thus the armistice remains in effect.
     
    The United States maintains more than 28,000 personnel of its armed forces in South Korea. A U.S. general also leads the U.N. command, which fought the North Korean and Chinese forces during the war and remains in place for the defense of the South.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: usgotrights from: Pearl Harbor
    March 30, 2013 6:16 PM
    Would #America be facing #nuclear threats from #NorthKorea today if President Truman did not fire General #MacArthur? pic.twitter.com/YdSfyTn7XF

    by: Philip from: Sydney,Australia .
    March 30, 2013 4:38 PM
    Machevelli liked the idea of keeping a buffer against your real enemy hence north Korea was created. But now you have nuke's there and heavy fortified DMZ so the south will not go north by land nor the north go south! So it would be an air war USA is great at that and clearing the way for south Korean land troops just don't send your own troops!! The world has seen the economic cost with the rebuilding of east Germany to west Germany's standards if read something like 1-4trillion usd over 25 years the world should set up a fund for this purpose not to carry the full load just say 2/3rds to half other wise who knows what problems a unified Korea could get into!

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    March 28, 2013 4:56 AM
    North Korea looks like become desperate not to know what to do and what not to do. I am afraid it would actually take some millitary actions against neighboring countries.

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    March 27, 2013 5:46 PM
    More irrational efforts from NKorea's dictatorship; they should be spending their time in bettering their food production, and in bettering the production of products that their people need. Instead of wasting their meager resources in the production of useless armaments that are relics, and spending big money on luxuries for their leaders, they should think about improving the nutrition of their children..

    by: NVO from: USA
    March 27, 2013 2:51 PM
    But they cannot sucessfully launch a satellite into space, yet everyone is supposed to fear them. LOL!

    by: Hovhannes from: Montevideo
    March 27, 2013 1:44 PM
    Kim Jong Un is delusional, he must be hallucinating. He has forgotten to take his haloperidol.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    March 27, 2013 8:45 AM
    This threat is becoming more alarming than it should be allowed to be. Why has the South allowed the North all this noise making with just half its population? China and Russia are not just sympathizers to North Korea, they are powers waiting in the wing for anything to drop USA from its present position as the most powerful army in the world. But it can never get better unless it first gets worst. And that means that North Korea be taken out at all cost. And the time is now. Head or tail, North Korea is going to use its nuclear weapon on world's civilians, and the US will only go after the leaders. North Korea is aware of this and so MUST unleash this terror sometime.

    What is the best alternative in this circumstance: keep postponing the evil day? The world would be better off without that threat from North Korea. It can only be removed by reigniting the Korean war while the rest of the peace loving nations come together to find ways to neutralize the North Korean nuclear battery. Without engaging North Korea in such a distraction that may end up in bringing an end to the present pariah state as it presently is, many people the world over will continue to die many times before their death owing to the fear of nuclear war from North Korea. I thing the world will be more peaceful without a country called North Korea than be in perpetual threat from a country whose only stock in trade is threat for war on daily basis.

    by: riano baggy from: ina
    March 27, 2013 7:27 AM
    i think china and rusia not make attention about north korea moves'china and rusia make relationship about their borders.

    by: Serious Warning!!! from: The US
    March 27, 2013 7:11 AM
    “Very young and also very hungry for victory, this human kind is lying crowdedly in graveyards in the world…”
    This is one of the last honest advices that we give Mr Kim Jong-un.

    by: Hunsen from: Phnom Penh
    March 27, 2013 7:05 AM
    There will be a good fight, a fight to change a dictatorial regime of North Korea, the evil. Love you South Koreans, and Americans

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